With an impressive 18 goals and four assists to his name, it is easy to see why Cassius Mailula caught the attention of Bafana Bafana coach Hugo Broos and earned the nod in the national team set up for the first time under the Belgian mentor.
The now 21-year-old Mailula entered the youth structures at the Mamelodi Sundowns Academy in 2016 shortly after obtaining his diploma in Sports Science and has never looked back. He admits, however, that the football genes run only through his blood in his family as none of them have ever taken it as far as he has done.
“No one in my family plays football, not at the level I’m at right now. They’ve only played for fun. I’m happy and privileged to be given this great talent and I hope to do good on it,” he said.
After six months in the senior setup at Sundowns, Mailula admits that getting a call-up to the South African senior national team came as a surprise. “I really did not expect it so soon. I’ve always wanted this to happen, but so soon is really a dream. Sometimes I think I’m still dreaming, like today being on the same pitch as Percy Tau. That has been a dream of mine and it all came true,” said the player.
He said getting the call-up was so unexpected that he phoned home to communicate the good news. “I called home and shared the good news, much to the shock and sheer disbelief of everyone.”
The nimble-footed player has a good head on his shoulders, knowing full well what such an experience could mean for him and his career. “I know this is big for me, I understand the pressure that comes with it and I’m open to learning as I go along. I won’t be too hard on myself knowing that this is my first call-up, but I am going to push hard and give it my best. It is why I’m here. I too am dreaming of the AFCON come January next year.”
At 21 years old, the world is his oyster but a move overseas seems not to be top of mind for Mailula right now. “I have a lot of learning and growing to do, so I’m not too pressured on an overseas move. I’m just taking it in my stride.
“I want to enjoy scoring, it is what I love and for as long as I’m in the national set up or with my team I will apply myself, I know that I’m still a young player with promise.”
With an appetite for scoring goals, we trust that given the chance to take to the field, this right-footed, goal-scoring machine will shine and won’t give into pressure.